Dan Wheldon–2 time Indianapolis 500 (see my previous post) winner, died in a fiery crash on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at the Izod Indycar World Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The race was only several laps old (unclear if it was 11, 12 or 13 laps as gleaned from different sites) into the 200 lap race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, when contact between two cars in front of Wheldon, triggered a massive 15 car crash throwing debris up and down a large section of the track.
Mr Wheldon’s car was propelled into the air over another car into a catch fence and burst into flames. Dan was air lifted to a nearby hospital where he later died from his injuries.
There was concern during practice about the speeds reaching in excess of 220 miles per hour and the number of cars on the track, 34 in the competition.
It was decided to end the race and in Dan Wheldon’s honor, drivers took part in a five lap salute around the oval track as the fans stood and cheered from the grandstand.
This tragic accident cost the life of one of Dario Franchitti’s longtime friends and former teammate at then-Andretti Green Racing.
“Right now I’m numb and speechless,” Franchitti said. “One minute you’re joking around in driver intros and the next he’s gone. He was 6 years old when I first met him. He was this little kid and the next thing you know he was my teammate”.
Franchitti continues, “We put so much pressure on ourselves to win races and championships and today it doesn’t matter.”